Sisters of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, Srs. Herma Martin, left, Pearl Goudreau and Madeleine Prince. CCN photo/Thandiwe Konguavi

Devoted to Christ through education

By  Thandiwe Konguavi, Canadian Catholic News
  • October 10, 2015

EDMONTON - When Sr. Madeleine Prince was growing up in the hamlet of Delmas, Sask., the word “providence” came up often.

It was not easy on the farm. There was drought and hail. But her parents had a lot of faith God would protect and provide for them.

Prince first met the Sisters of Assumption as a student at their school in Delmas. However, the government did not want religion or French taught.

To avoid detection, the sisters took off their habits and taught in lay clothes. The cross, of course, could not be put on the wall. So the sisters put a cross on each students’ desk.

“We were brought up fighting for our rights,” said Prince, 72.

Prince decided in high school she wanted to be a sister.

“I wanted to continue in that life and to teach others about Christ.”

Following the biblical mandate to “Go and teach all nations,” the thrust and charism of the Sisters of Assumption has been education, especially to the underserved in society. The French congregation was born out of this need when it was founded in 1853 in Saint Gregoire-le-Grand, Que. At that time in Quebec, only boys were allowed to go to college after Grade 8. The only options for young women were to get married or stay in their family home.

The congregation was named Sisters of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, after the patroness of the Acadians, by Bishop Thomas Cooke of Trois-Rivieres. The order’s mission statement was “With Mary, stake all on God to reveal His love through education.”

Sr. Herma Martin, one of six Sisters of Assumption in Edmonton, said the congregation’s devotion to Mary comes through Christ’s devotion.

The spirituality of the congregation is based on the mystery of the Assumption as a living example of the ultimate accomplishment to which God’s providence leads humankind in and through Christ.

Today, the Sisters of Assumption number 376 and has expanded across Canada and to the United States, Japan, Brazil and Ecuador.

The sisters were invited to Edmonton by Bishop Vital Grandin to establish all-girls school, Academie Assomption in 1926. The school closed in 1972.

The sisters continued to teach across Edmonton. They also expanded their apostolate to careers in nursing, social work, adult education, elderly care and pastoral care.

The sisters see that their mission of helping women and the underprivileged to receive education has largely been attained. The congregation now faces the reality of aging and reduced membership. But they believe their charism will be carried on by others.

“There will always be people that need help and there are other vocations that are sprouting up,” said Martin. “A lot of them came through our schools.

“We will continue while we’re still here. But our mission, our thrust, is continuing through different means.”

(Western Catholic Reporter)

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